Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gainesville Bike Shop Tour, Mental Health Day #1

In order to keep from punching somebody in the side of the head and going to jail, I determined that a Mental Health Day was in fact, long over due. So much so, that I took two of 'em! (you already heard about MHD #2) I decided that on Thursday, I'd head on down to Gainesville and visit the bike shops that feed the drunken student population of the state's flagship institution of higher learning their bike fix.


First, Gainesville is a %$#-Box. I know that college towns typically have a bit of a high-traffic, heavily-used feel to them, what with (in Gainesville's case) over 40,000 students all milling about the town, drinking and puking and generally acting like crazed farm animals. Still, on the %$#-Box meter, Gainesville stands head and shoulders above other college towns I've visited in my years. I've been to Blacksburg (Virginia Tech), College Park (Maryland) and Georgetown (Georgetown...duh!), and of course I lived in Boulder (Colorado), for over a year. Gainesville just has an overwhelming feel of disheveled, broken-ness, as if only half the light switches in the city work, and most restaurants score a 65% on state health inspections and feel proud to do it. 'Quirky' and 'Filthy' are not synonyms, Gainesville. In the interests of full disclosure, I have to come clean and claim South Florida as my 'nourishing mother', and point out further that as a graduate of a competing state institution (in dollars allocated anyway, if not in football!) I am duty bound, as any graduate of USF, FSU or even Florida Gulf Coast will tell you, to talk badly about the University of Florida and Gainesville in general. Gainesville deserves special mention for making it so easy to talk badly about it. Thank you, G-ville, for being such a total dump. Hugs and Kisses , etc.

Anyway, while I was there I had the joyful opportunity to visit 6 bike shops, and even get 'thrown out' of one (and I wasn't even drunk or covered in my own vomit, fancy that!) So in the next few string out this post even longer in the hopes of getting more than 4 people to vote in my Blog Poll...I'll post up some pictures of the shops I visited, and even rate them on an as yet determined 5 'star' scale.

Again, thanks to Gainesville for being such a colossal pigsty. Stay tuned to learn if that pigsty-ness carries over into their bike shops. I can't speak for the restaurants...I'm not eating out in that town...

Hannah Park, Mental Health Day #2

Friday, I took the second of my two mental health days this week. With Big Moma at work and Baby in school, it was time for a nice quiet ride in the woods, just me and a 15 year old EWR. I realized as I was getting ready to leave the house, that I'd never taken any pictures out at Hannah.

Its a neat park in its own way... very typical of most of the Florida trails available to off-road cyclists, as you spend a lot of time essentially riding in circles in a park where the overall size of the land available isn't directly related to the myriad of trails which essentially double back and forth to give the illusion of riding great distances when in reality, you haven't gone far at all, at least as the crow flies.

Of course, the EWR sports my Altek levers. Yummy.

Lots of roots and technical trails, with a few bridge crossings to complete the experience.

Tight through the trees, whatch your handlebars!
Again, Hannah is a fun park, especially since it's only maybe 35 minutes from my front door, but unlike parks such as Santos, I'd never ask any of my out of state friends to travel to Jax to ride Hannah. Hey, maybe that's why they never want to vist me!


I am a brewmaster!

OK, not exactly, but I can, in fact, assemble a canned pre-processed beer system, in the comfort of my own home! Recall, the first recipe is "Cowboy Lager", which is a very unfortunate name for any beer. The stuff is supposed to be a Bud type clone. Know what? It is! I figured that when I sampled the beer on its way out of the fermenter into bottles for secondary fermenting, carbonating and conditioning and it tasted like warm flat Bud, that I was well on my way to beer assembly success. Now, after having cracked the first sample bottle, which spent two+ weeks in the bottle and then 2 days by its lonesome in the fridge, I can say for certain 2 things.

First, Mr Beer works and works pretty well for what it is. I'm not so sure you can call it "home brewing" if everything comes essentially pre-measured and only requires assembly and time to brew. The second recipe, which is the 2 extract can Octoberfest, to which I added a half cup of honey to the wort to 'customize', will be a more extensive test for Mr Beer as home brewing.

Second, Budweiser is full of crap. If that beer takes as much effort for them to 'craft' as they say it does, then mark my words, the brewing industry will be the next in line for federal bailout cash. If a bald cranky bastard like me can make a Bud clone in the kitchen sink, then they need to really look at streamlining their brewing methods, because their investment certainly doesn't measure up to the final product.

Bone Appetite! (as we say here in the Ponzi State!)

Friday, February 27, 2009

"Has Everyone Lost the Passion"

from Retrobike...Some of my soap-boxing. I should be careful that I don't turn my nice polite euro message board into something mean and borderline worthless like Discoweb.

Basically the discussion revolves around how the industry made it from this lovely beastie...

To This complete cookie cutter abomination...

My rants as follows...

***A good many characteristics on modern bikes have nothing to do with trails and everything to do with profits. Hydroformed Tubes on $3500 Stumpjumpers welded in China, anyone? The proliferation of Asian carbon fiber and titanium? The new Ibis? These decisions weren't all made to improved the experience of riding a bicycle... these decisions were made to make people some serious cash. If you think you need that Rocky Mountain so you can ride your locals trails and have fun, then you are lost. (granted, if you lived in Whistler BC, maybe... but for the rest of us? I'll take a Blizzard in 853 steel, thanks.)

***New shop floor available bicycle designs are made to inspire excitement in people that have little to no understanding of bicycles. I'm not saying that the new Taiwan ROC Specialized FSR is a POS, because its not. I am saying though, that aesthetics mean too much today, and computer managed Asian manufacturing is generating bicycle shapes that in my opinion have little to do with their function. Some of the best small builder suspension designs available today, say Ventana's for example, don't have hydroformed 'S' bent tubes...why do Treks?

***I just think that the message of cycling is lost for me, in modern designs. Do I need a 5" travel bike to take big drops and stuff? Nope. My 1994 EWR has been doing that for years. Am I slower than I'd be were I to have 5" travel? Sure. Do I need to pay particular attention to my line, and bike placement, and balance, and momentum when on my EWR? Sure! That's called riding. If I wanted a bike that could ride the trail on its own, It would be KTM orange. (props Matt! I only know about KTM orange from you!)

***I rode with a guy back in college that had a ProFlex 856 at a time when the rest of us were using Klein Rascals and Pinnacles, S-Works M2s, Zaskars and various steel Konas and Breezers. The dude was a little older than us, as we were students then, and I was amazed at how closely he could follow our group through the gooey and sloppy technical trails of Florida. Then I rode behind him and it was revealed to me how he did it...the man never coasted, never stood up, never went around obstacles, never picked a line, never did anything but steer through the trees and pedal. To me, that just seems like cheating. Again...if you're going to remove that much rider involvement, then go KTM orange.

***I'm sure the new Ibis Mojo Carbon rides great, but I'd stop short of calling it an Ibis. I don't mean that as harsh as it may sound, but if Chris Chance came out of the massage business and started selling imported carbon frames sporting names like Wicked and Monster under the Fat Chance banner, then I'd say the same thing. Here in the states, it looks like we may lose Chrysler as an auto manufacturer. Three years from now, if the Dodge Charger name comes back on a line of rebadged front wheel drive Kia sedans, well then I'll be there to call foul on that one too, no matter how fast the thing is on the highway.

***I am not a dedicated retro grouch. I have a modern bike. None of that which is posted above makes hydroformed tubes necessary. Or black spokes necessary. Or overly wrought, overly styled bikes with 'features' that add little to nothing to the ride quality of the bikes necessary. Or huge prices for mass produced models made overseas by exploited labor necessary. I'm not crapping on the idea of the 5" travel bike (although I steadfastly believe that all riders should learn and continue to hone their skills on a rigid bike.) I'm crapping on the idea that the standard for mountain bikes today is 5" travel, Asian made, cookie cutter style, and still sky-high asking prices.

***Even the Wal Mart bikes are interrupted seat tube full suspension bikes with double crown forks! Who in the market for a cheap-o bike needs that crap? Marketing!

***What I am saying, is that the modern bikes are more about style than they are substance. I am not saying that suspension is about style and not substance (although I am a hard-tail guy.) These marketing justification blurbs being brandied about by manufacturers and magazines touting hydroformed tubes are just a way to distract you from noticing that your $3500 bike is made in Taiwan, and that it looks alot like the Giants and Treks down the street.

***1999 Stumpjumper Comp (Hardtail)...MSRP $1199US. 2008 Stumpjumper FSR Comp...MSRP $2559US (FS) Both very reasonable...BUT...! Adjust that 99 Stump to 2008 prices (using one of the myriad of inflation adjusters available on the web elsewhere) and you get $1479 That's an $1100 difference, between a hard tail and a full suspension bike with reasonably close quality parts in their builds. 1100 seems to me to be a fair adjustment to go from hardtail to full suspension, and all other things being equal, I'd be all over the 2008 as a great bike...BUT! All things aren't equal. The 2008 is made in Asia by machines and operators who make peanuts for a living! That 1999 Stump has a "Made in the USA" sticker on it, and that means that the guy who put the pipes together made at least $5US an hour. The guys that make the 2008 make that in a day if they're lucky. So my point (and I do actually have one, I swear! ) Is first...where did the money that Specialized saved in moving manufacturing overseas go? That savings wasn't passed on to us.

***And Finally, I think the sexiness of overly styled expensive looking modern bikes exists to keep you distracted so you don't ask the question, "hey...why isn't this beauty cheaper if its made in Taiwan?" I guess maybe this isn't something that all buyers look for, but I don't want stuff made in a place where people don't make a fair wage, especially if the price isn't adjusted accordingly. If one year Pace made a full suspension bike in the UK, slathered it with Union Jacks, and touted it as the best in Britain, and then 3 years later sold a spec-comparable bike, imported from China (undoubtedly still slathered with Union Jacks!), and didn't adjust the price accordingly, wouldn't my points still apply? When Specialized shipped their manufacturing overseas, I was crushed. I'll never own a modern Specialized again.

***Technology and modern style aren't inherently a bad thing, but I think a good amount of 'improvements' in the industry to day are there to keep you from asking why Trek (who used to make just about EVERYTHING in Waterloo Wisconsin) doesn't make that $2500 bike in the US anymore. Same thing with Ritchey Components. Old Tom can slap red, white, and blue packaging all over Sugino cranks and Hsin Lung stems, but I don't want them for the same cost as a product made here in the states. Even Ned, back in the day, saved "his money" buy using the cheaper 'Zoom' labeled Hsin Lung crap. (I know he was sponsored by Zoom...hence the quote.)

This post is cobbled from about two days worth of my banter on a message board, so the logic may be a little disjointed, but you get the idea...I'll get off my soap box now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

eBay Search: "Karakoram"

Result: Bleak! - Item number: 150327723179

That's right. In my never ending quest to add some much needed steel to my bike quiver, and with little success in pulling in auctions for good stuff like Brodie Expressos or even a decent GT Psyclone, I've been reduced to searching for the Karakoram. Would I buy a Karakoram? No. But searching for a Karakoram at least makes me feel like I'm working toward getting some decent steel...

Here's what you find...

Purple doesn't bug me. Used doesn't bug me. Hell, even scratched nearly beyond recognition and slathered in surface rust and skate punk stickers doesn't bug me...but $125 plus nearly 40 bucks to ship? What?

Auction comes with an Indy fork, a Judy box I guess, and by the looks of the picture, one yellow zip-tie and a scroungy white picnic table to boot! (maybe the reason for the high shipping costs?)

Paul Turner showed up at the Sports Garage in 1996 with an early production Indy XC just like the one in this auction, and we installed it on my white EWR for a week or two. Ugh. The thing was a noodle, bouncy feeling with no damper, and nearly worthless . I'd pay the seller to keep the Indy and lower my shipping. I might like that zip tie though...

Granted the gent running the auction has some pristine feedback, but I still wonder what this auction is all about...and what people are thinking when they list stuff on the old fleabay.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


From the baby this time...

"No don't posta be checking my rumpy!"

All clear everyone? Good, now go forth and rumpy-check...

Friday, February 20, 2009


Because I can't leave a child's bunk bed as the static pic on my blog...Sorry.


"There's a lot of fun on the other side of risk." -Tom Ritchey

....and the "artisan" who crafted this abomination of a lamp (and then defiled it with a Roy Rogers lamp shade to boot!) is taking a pretty big risk, what with the VRC guys trolling hungrily for Klein crap of any ilk and vintage. Lamp-owner may find himself on the short end of a Jeff Gillooly stick, or a sex tape with his psycho ex-wife. What can I say, eBay competition brings out the worst in folks, especially if they're from Oregon, and the fork in question hails from the 'Dub.' I Blame the Cascade Hops.
I had a Quantum road frame that was painted like that fork...ugliest thing ever. Ever.

Baby has a BED!!!

Which means so do I! After over a year of struggling with the baby and her never ending need to sleep with mom, we've gotten her a bed, and decorated it with her input, and now she will fall asleep after book time, with one of us in the bed, and then we can make our exit and she sleeps on! I've even heard her in the middle of the night wake up and then go back to sleep! WOOHOO!!

Another SDG

From fleabay...advertised as having a small hole and being filthy. Filthy it was, hole is but a snag. Tossed it in the washer with some towels from a small accident with the dog (grass eater, grass eater!!!) and it cleaned up nicely! Not bad for 15 bones and a little for shipping! This one will land on the TST titanium frame.

What, you don't have used kevlar bike saddles on your kitchen counter?

Sleeping Beer

Here's the Cowboy Lager, from the Mr Beer kit, all bottled up and sleeping. I'm using a cooler for the conditioning stage, because I'm mildly concerned with bottles rupturing during carbonation. You'll notice the test glass bottle in the middle of this crowd, bottles in a recycled bottle and capped with my new capper and over-run caps bought locally. Nine days in and no popping bottles. PET plastic bottles are nice and firm so carbonation is going on fine. So far so good!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beer Update

This has nothing to do with me taking the LSAT...

I bottled my Lager style ale Tuesday, using table sugar as priming sugar for the little yeasties (as per Mr Beer instructions). First I drew out an ounce or so and gave it a sniff and a swig, to see how two weeks in the fermentor had served my little concoction. The test sample tasted like warm, flat Miller, and while that sounds like a horrible thing, it's actually good news. You see, the Mr Beer 'Cowboy Lager' is essentially an American lager clone type beer, so it should seem similar to Miller, and it hasn't carbonated yet, so it should be flat, and it's been sitting in the fermentor at 69 degrees, so warm is OK too.

There was enough beer to fill the 8 liter PET bottles that came with my Mr Beer kit, and still a little left over to try out a glass 12 oz bottle with my new capper and some over-run caps that I picked up here in town at the local brew supply store. (Over at the corner of Cassat and San Juan, on the west side...funny little place with some very 'sedate-(d)' guys working there, place is called "Just Brew It") The 12ozer got a small amount of trub in the bottle, but I think with conditioning that shouldn't be a problem. I'll probably pop that one early though anyway, because I originally bottled it because I wanted to use the small test bottle to learn about how the conditioning process works out over time. Anyway, the priming sugar is doing it's thing, and the PET bottles are firming up to the touch, evidence that the little yeasties are in there going to town and pooping CO2 and carbonation is taking place. 12 oz glass bottle hasn't popped either, so my capper and the caps seem to be working ok too. All 9 of the bottled beers are conditioning in my big cooler, where if they leak, or full-on rupture, they will only make a mess on each other, and not all over my house.

I started the next batch in the Mr Beer too, as I've now got enough glass bottles and with the caps and capper from the shop, I can bottle that batch when the time comes. I didn't want to start the second batch until I had all the supplies to finish the task, through bottling. The next beer is an Octoberfest recipe from Mr Beer, with no Booster, but rather a second can of extract, this time blond UME. I also added steeped cinnamon and honey to the wort. It smelled great, and within 24 hours I had a nice layer of krausen on the surface in the fermentor. Looking good!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Klein..."there is no substitute."

From a thread over on Retrobike...regarding the popularity of the Chehalis-built Klein frames...

It's really simple...Kleins are popular because they are Kleins.

Nothing else is a Klein.

Nobody smoothed aluminum frames and painted them to glass like Klein.

Nobody payed attention to details like Klein.

Noboy else made as many reaching advancements, for the day, available in frames comparable to Klein.


Many slick features, like internal cable routing, chain suck plates, square to round chainstay swagging, sloped top tubes, quick angles, light weight, etc, are pretty standard fare today, but they were the cat's tits in 1992. Sure the zip-grip seat collars, MC headsets, and press-fit bottom brackets were a pain, but Klein never hid from trying something new. Even those dubious 'advancements' had strengths on paper. A seat tube that provided for tool-less adjustment without the weight or complication of a quick release? Oversized sealed bearings in the bottom bracket? In the head tube? Seems like forward thinking to me. Brand lethargy didn't doom Klein...Only after Klein got rolled into Trek did they die off. Same as Bontrager. (Fisher and Lemond were companies in name only, so they don't get tears from me the way Klein and Bontrager do.

(boad mamber1) once posted a picture of a maroon Rascal for sale. Months later, I asked him if it was still available, and he confirmed that it was. I asked him how much and he replied, make an offer. I made him a buyer friendly offer (translation, I low-balled him) and never heard about the frame again. Why? Because he knows what he has. Knows it has enduring value. Knows that there are no real valid questions to that value. And knows not to be suckered by a cheap offer. Kleins are the real deal. Chehalis, pre-Trek Kleins are still respected today for being exactly what they are, handmade, handpainted pinnacles (no pun intended) of engineering packed with technology that back in the day, pushed the envelope hard. Technology not for technology's sake, but for the genuine purpose of creating a better bike, advancement after advancement. Very few companies did as much to create products as distinctive as Klein. Quite frankly, and I've owned a multitude of aluminum frames over the years...Aliens, Stumpjumpers, Cannondale Beasts, my estimation, nobody did aluminum frames better. And as long as you stayed out of the proprietary headset frames, they were pretty reasonably priced to boot! (Rascal!)

The reason why Klein gets crapped on today is simple, and two fold...first, they are pretty. They are glamorous. Nobody likes glamorous mountain bikes, at least, nobody takes the idea seriously....unless they owned one or aspired to. Mountain bikes shouldn't twinkle like a disco stage AND ride like the wind too, should they? People hated then and hate today, on the paint. SURELY, a bike that looks THAT blingy just can't be legit, right?

Secondly, and this it the big sticking point to me...Kleins are considered toys of the rich. Props to the midlife crisis sufferers like Jerry Seinfeld, who would just buy the things to hang them on the wall. Sad but true, yet this isn't Klein's fault, any more than its Porsche's fault that they are the automotive equivalent. How many Porsches get used on track days? Does that make a Porsche less of a sports car? Is that really Porsche's fault? Am I concerned that if I show up at the trail head on my Rascal that others will think I'm a rich old poser fart? Uh...NO! In fact, I'm glad that many Kleins were purchased by rich old fart posers back in the day, it means that there are clean examples of the brand available to us now, probably in percentages of total manufactured numbers far higher than other high-zoot brands from back in the day. Is that really bad? Is (board member2) supposed to be SAD that Adroits are hanging on walls in retired executive garages, just waiting for the auction block?

On the durability front...let's be real here. Kleins are not brittle. 15-20 years later, we are talking about cracked seat tubes and some other niggles...YEARS! I know that Zaskars have broken too, but I'm not labeling them as brittle (although admittedly, the 1st gen Zaskar is a burlier frame than anything Klein ever made). If you broke a Klein using it for cross country work, you'd have probably broken a Beast too, or an American, or a Yeti, or (certainly) a Manitou. Finish work? I've never seen 'fragile' Chehalis paint. You can whack my Rascal with a hammer and it wouldn't chip. Why do you think (board member3) has to do all that scraping?

Don't blame Klein for being Klein. Embrace Klein for being Klein. In the immortal words of Porsche..."There is no substitute"

Monday, February 2, 2009


YouTube Fodder. The dog is cool.

Amateur helmet cam video shows good trails and variety at Santos...

Another HATE mail...

More Retrobike HATE thread fodder. I am an opinionated animal.

Vintage Hates...

-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-The word "Trek "on the downtube.
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.

Non-vintage Hates...

-black black black black BLACK everywhere! Bleah!
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-Non-standard Wheels with less than 28 spokes, or spokes in pairs, or wheels with the nipples on the wrong end of the spokes, or wheels with straight pull spokes, or wheels with black spokes, or crappy asian-made mass produced junk wheels labeled with mean-nothing names like Rolf or Bontrager or American Classic. (which of course, have less than 28 spokes, and spokes in pairs, and nipples on the wrong end of the spokes, and straight pull spokes, and black spokes, etc...)
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-Brittle imported mass produced Carbon Fiber garbage made by folks not afforded a living wage.
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-Heavy, overly styled, non-functional imported Hydro-formed frames made by folks not afforded a living wage.
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-The word "Trek" on the downtube.
-The new Spooky. Are you kidding me? You're still not faster than my mom. Junk. Might as well have "Trek" on the downtube...

Santos, Round Three

Again with Travis to Santos for a little 42 mile off road ride. See the attached map for the route. This park is an amazing place, not just compared to Florida trails, but for the east coast as a whole. The blue labeled trails out toward the halfway point, in an area near 'Shangri La' kicked my single speed butt. First time I've felt like I needed gears in Florida in a long time. There were very few folks out on the trails taking advantage of the full 42 miles. Wonderful!

BUT...on the way back out to the trail head, maybe the last quarter mile, we pulled in behind a group of guys that were standing around shooting the shinola until they saw us coming. Before we could pass them they hopped on their hydro-form FSers and jumped in front of us, then poked along with their droopy guts wagging over their waste bands, the elastic screaming in agony. They were going slow enough, and they were insistent enough that they had to be in front of us, that I knew the conversation (for out benefit) was coming, and it did, explicative laden talk about who in their group wasn't there because he was either cheap, wife-whipped, or fat. Then they gabbed about Mavic wheel sets and how the one guy got a smoking deal on his at only 900 bucks for the pair. Then something about a guy they ride with who is a 46 year old virgin. All in the maybe 5 minutes I was behind them! I just couldn't stand it, so I began to sing Faith No More's "Midlife Crisis" while riding behind their group. Dirty looks ensued. I am a prick. Funny how on a trail system that allows for 42 miles of unrepeated trail work, you only find these guys within 3 miles of the parking lot....

Then, in the parking lot, another not so wonderful Florida Trail-head moment. We finished our 42 miler, and at the car, a 300 pound fat man rides up with a shop-jersey barely stretched over his gut, and proceeds to drop the stereotyped wanna-be industry drivel that permeates Florida off-road cycling. I won't get too far into the hows and whys, but the line was "That's an interesting frame." directed toward my EWR, (in a way that suggested I was supposed to check out his bike and comment on the cool factor) so I said, yeah, not too bad for 14 years old, and then just looked at the guy. He said nothing, but stood proudly over his full suspension something or other...Giant I think, again it had a hydro-formed down tube, but I guess all the cookie cutters are making those Nomad clones now. Anyway, after a few uncomfortable and quiet seconds, he rode off and I wished him a good ride. He came up pretty quick and struck up the conversation, but then didn't go anywhere with it so I'm not sure what the point was. I'm also not sure what I was supposed to say, but I'm fairly certain that somewhere in my response there was supposed to be some outpouring of adulation for his hydro-formed mass produced POS.

I know there are some folks who would point out that maybe I'm reading a little too much into these scenarios, and that maybe the first group was just shooting the &#$@ among friends, and the second guy just wanted to say howdy, but I tell you... I've been riding in Florida for nearly 20 years, and these guys flock around the trail heads, with thousands of dollars of undertilized equipment, all peacock strutting and posing like a magazine ad. Rarely you find them on the trails, but the parking lots sure are full of them.

Call me an arrogant prick, but I'd much rather talk about the ride than the bikes. Why not ask about the trail conditions, or how far we had ridden or what difficulty of trails we did? Did we see any animals? How early did we start? Why does trail-head talk around here always have to be self indulgent equipment bragging veiled with a thin veneer of admiration and interest in others? Seems like way too much ego masturbation, and not enough exercise. I just don't get it, I mean are there really that many people in the world spending some serious coin just to belong to a herd?